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'Magic Mike': Tatum and McConaughey on making female fantasies

By Julie Makinen

2:25 PM EDT, June 27, 2012

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Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey bare nearly all in “Magic Mike,” Steven Soderbergh’s dive into the world of male strippers that opens Friday. The film was inspired by Tatum’s short stint in the world of exotic dancing when he was in his late teens. Despite McConaughey’s extensive experience going shirtless, he actually was a newcomer to the world of striptease.

To research his role, McConaughey rendezvoused with Tatum in New Orleans last year and went to a male revue. The two had never met previously – can you say awkward first date? – and to boot, McConaughey brought his now-wife, Camila Alves, along for the ride. It was at this club that McConaughey started to figure out his character in the film – the club boss, Dallas, who runs a tight ship.

McConaughey and Tatum recalled the experience recently in an interview at Culver City’s Cinema Bar.

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“We drive out of town. It’s down, down. It’s not on Bourbon Street. It’s Out. Of. Town. It’s in a strip mall between you know, Gonzalo’s tacos and a laundromat, and a mattress store,” McConaughey said. “So we get there early, we’re sitting there talking to a couple guys. They’re decent enough guys -- one’s a lawyer, the other one’s back from the armed services, he’s got three kids at home.... Anyway, women start coming in, most of them are older women, we sneak into the back, and all of a sudden boom! These guys are coming out on stage, they’re dancing!”

But it was the slapshod nature of the operation that sparked McConaughey’s imagination.

"The production in there – it was just poor production. I mean, the sound cues, the record scratch, the lighting, there was nothing running. None of the women seemed to care," McConaughey said. "But that’s when I was like, ‘All right, my guy Dallas is the emcee, he’s the master of ceremonies, he’s producing this review, he’s choreographing, and we’re gonna run this thing tight, baby!' "

McConaughey took it upon himself to pen specific, distinct introductions for each of the dancers in “Magic Mike” that weren’t in the script.

“I really got into entrances and exits. And I remember that first day that everyone came out and danced, I had written all this stuff --  I want to introduce each one of my guys,  give them a different introduction, a different theme song.... It was like Dallas was directing the theater,” McConaughey said.  “Lights green for Tarzan. Let’s get the jungle music for that. But I always had to make sure that [Channing] was the main guy, he’s the star of our show. So the way I talked about Mike always had to be very different than the way I talked about anyone else. But everyone had to have a different sort of story, and it was fun to go back and go, if this is a female fantasy – we’re giving females fantasies here – so how is each character in a different demographic of the female fantasy?”

McConaughey recalled that Soderbergh was a tad overwhelmed by his preparation during the first day of dance rehearsals.

“So I was like, ‘Steven, can I get up there [and do the introductions for each dancer]? And he’s like. ‘Yeah.’ And I think after the 20thtime, he looked over at me and was like: ‘Do you have an entrance for this one too?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah!’ After about 22, he looked at me and said, ‘You don’t have to do this, it’s just a rehearsal.’ ”

Not all of McConaughey’s preparation made it into the final cut. But ladies, fear not, you won’t have to miss a thing. Said Tatum: “It’s all going to be on the DVD. All those monologues. All those monologues and the full dances.”

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